By Bob Difley
With Spring but weeks away and the desert sun burning hotter and hotter, you might be starting to think about heading back home and planting the garden. The temptation is there to get a head start, but instead of heading directly home on the way, try a different location for a few days or a week, a high desert location that would be too cold in mid-winter, and too hot in the summer, but right now might be, as baby bear said, just right.
One place that comes to mind is Valley of Fire State Park in the Mojave Desert 55 miles north of Las Vegas and only six miles from Lake Mead. Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park and gets its name from the the park’s red sandstone formations. This park brings out the little boy in all of us, climbing the rocks, peering into eroded caves and through holes and arches, playing cowboys and Indians, and giving names to the odd formations–bee hives, elephant rock, and grand piano.
You can also find petrified logs, big horn sheep, Indian petroglyphs, secret slot canyons, an old movie site, and a rainbow of colors in the geologic formations. Paved scenic drives access most of the park’s attractions, but several hikes wind in and out of the strange and mysterious rocky formations.
There are primitive, nicely private, first-come-first-serve campsites tucked in the rock formations and some have water and electricity hookups. But don’t worry about driving in here and being shut out of a campsite, even if they are full the park will accommodate you in an overflow area.
Now is the time to visit the park. It is open all year, but the Spring weather is perfect. The classy visitor center provides lots of information on the area as well as interpretive displays. This is an interesting and unique destination, and a break between your your winter snowbird roosting area and the place you call home.
For the complete guide to boondocking, check out my eBook, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands.
On our Long Long Honeymoon, we’ve enjoyed our share of rustic camping locations. Places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Glacier National Park come to mind. Getting back to nature is what camping’s all about, right? But what happens when we take our “condo on wheels” into an urban environment like NEW YORK CITY? Read more
Here’s a great route from the folks at Woodall’s to help you plan an entertaining excursion in southern Nevada on one tank of fuel. Our trip starts in Laughlin, a city that has retained the laid-back atmosphere that Vegas used to have back in the Bugsy Siegel days. For example, you can still get a steak-and-eggs breakfast for less than five bucks in several Laughlin casinos. Try finding that on the Vegas Strip! (If by chance you visit Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona, this is an easy side trip: Laughlin is only 2 hours and 45 minutes from Flagstaff.)
When we think of Laughlin, naturally our first impulse runs toward gambling. But there’s so much more to see and do in and around this city than tempt Lady Luck to clean us out. For example, January routinely sees the Desert Challenge, where desert race cars and trucks compete in a desert road race that runs from sunrise to sunset. Spring in Laughlin is the time to catch the bone-jarring Stampede Rodeo, and there are always river cruises and off-road experiences to be had year-round. Boats and houseboats can be rented to further enjoy the river experience. Directly across the Colorado River is Bullhead City, Arizona, which offers miles of hiking trails and thousands of acres of public land.
We get back on the road to Primm, near Nevada’s state line. This leg of our trip runs about eighty miles, starting on the NV-163 W. Head north on the US-95, then merge with the westbound Hwy N-164 (Joshua Tree Highway), which briefly brings us through California before we merge with the I-15 N that takes us straight into Primm. Primm has two challenging Tom Fazio-designed golf courses, several thrill rides, and the opportunity to check out Bonnie and Clyde’s last-owned vehicle – which has more than a few bullet holes in it. The Star of the Desert Arena here plays host to famous entertainers and special events such as concerts, rodeos, and boxing matches.
Forty minutes away is the final stop on our trip: Vegas. It’s a straight shot up the I-15 N, and once we get there it’s not a question of “what will we do,” but a question of “how can we do it all?” It’ll be tough, but let’s give it our best shot.
The Strip is the likely choice, with all-star entertainment, round-the-clock food and gambling, and no shortage of Elvis impersonators or wedding chapels (some places have even been known to combine the two!). The Liberace Museum is a fitting tribute to this talented pianist and one-of-a-kind entertainer. In addition to his wildly flamboyant costumes, several rare pianos are on display, including a rhinestone-encrusted Baldwin grand, and Liberace’s personal favorite, a concert grand completely covered in mirror squares. Definitely eye-catching!
Let’s get away from those smoky casinos for a while and enjoy the fresh desert air. The area around Vegas is a perfect place to go horseback riding, or hire an Old West-style horse-drawn wagon and experience desert travel like the pioneers did. Or, if you’re the adventurous type, there are race tracks where you can drive NASCAR-type cars at ridiculous speeds under perfectly safe, controlled conditions. If 200+ mph speeds aren’t enough to get your blood pumping, there’s always skydiving or bungee jumping!
Lake Mead is too close by not to visit, and is an excellent place to go boating or jet skiing. Hoover Dam, an incredible display of engineering, offers daily tours, and gives us a breathtaking panoramic view of the area. It’s a favorite return spot for travelers from all over the world.
Red Rock Canyon is a choice spot for the biking and hiking enthusiast, or even the naturalist who wants to see various forms of plant and animal life in a protected setting. For those who prefer to see the desert from the air-conditioned comfort of their vehicle, Red Rock Canyon provides a scenic drive that’s open from 6 a.m. to dusk, so there’s no excuse not to see this picturesque panorama of natural beauty!
Where to Stay: The Nevada Treasure RV Resort & Spa (formerly the Seibt Desert Retreat-KOA) has all the first-rate amenities you could want in a more relaxed setting 60 miles northwest of Las Vegas in Pahrump. The resort features a two-level pool, waterfalls and Jacuzzis for unwinding after a long day of sight-seeing. Get your blood pumping in the fitness room, or soothe your aching muscles at the Health Spa (complete with steam room and massage). If games of skill are more your style, try the 9-hole golf course or bowling center. When your stomach starts to growl there’s no need to search for a restaurant; the resort has it’s own full bar and grill, and there’s also a bar and restaurant in the bowling center to satisfy your hunger.
The resort hosts 220 RV sites with full hookups (30/50 amp service) and free WIFI Internet. The resort offers picnic tables, patios and grills for your convenience. Laundry facilities and RV storage are available, as are RV supplies and LP gas by meter. Pets and big rigs are welcome, and 24-hour security is provided for your peace of mind. For more detailed information, contact the Nevada Treasure RV Resort office at 800-429-6665, or email them at email@example.com.
Other Area Sponsors in Nevada:
AVI Resort & Casino
Hitchin’ Post RV Park
Lake Mead RV Village
Las Vegas RV Resort
Monaco Las Vegas – Sales & Service
Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort
Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino
Sam’s Town Hotel & Gaming Hall
Sam’s Town Nellis RV Park
Sam’s Town RV Park
Signature Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort
Terrible’s Lakeside Casino & RV Resort
We’re in Tampa, enjoying a mild winter and planning our 2009 travels. In the continuum of planning styles we fall somewhere around the middle. We know some people who never plan at all and just decide where to go when it’s time to break camp. At the other extreme, I met a guy who plans meticulously knowing 12 to 18 months in advance where they will spend each night.
We have a general plan for the year, with anchor points that we commit to ahead of time. Everything in between these anchor points is set in Jell-O. We often stay longer, leave early, and change destinations as we go. This holds true for our casino-based travels too. We have long range plans for where we want to be; “Las Vegas”, “Gulf Coast”, “Midwest” for example, but we usually wait to make specific plans until we receive all our casino mail and offers for the month. Read more
The old saying goes, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Nothing illustrates this principle better than the sad saga of our Airstream ceiling fan. Read more
How valuable was this camping experience? We’ve been told that a half acre of land on the Las Vegas Strip recently sold for $47 million. And yet, here’s a massive swath of such land dedicated to a full hookup RV campground. So using these numbers as reference, I guess our little campsite is worth at least $5,000,000 — and the campground itself is worth around $1,128,000,000. Read more